The Delta Cultural Center at Helena has several events planned in February in observance of Black History Month.
A new exhibit, “African American Artists in the Arkansas Delta”, will be on display at the DCC Visitors Center through March 30. The exhibit is a collection of artworks of several different media by African American artists, living and deceased, who have worked in the Arkansas Delta. The exhibit includes drawing, acrylic and oil painting, watercolor, sculpture, ceramic, and photography and mixed media pieces, created by ten artists with different levels of training, different career paths, and different amounts of exposure of their works.
Artists included are Dewitt Jordan, 1932-1977, paintings and drawings; Isaac Scott Hathaway, 1874-1976, sculpture and ceramics; Ed Wade, watercolor; Henri Linton, acrylic painting; George Hunt, painting; Ernest Jefferson Davidson, Jr., 1946-2006, sculpture; Alonzo Ford, drawing; Juanita Eldridge, textile; J. C. “Ratt” Smith, mixed media; James “Super Chickan” Johnson, mixed media; and Rogerline Johnson and Steve Johnson, photography.
The exhibit features some pieces that are graciously loaned from private local collectors, and will provide an opportunity to see paintings rarely placed on public view. The exhibit will also be a collaboration with the sister museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock.
An opening reception is planned for 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Pine Bluff historian John Mitchell will present a program entitled, “The Freedom Process – From Field to Freedom,” at the next meeting of the Civil War Roundtable of the Delta on Thursday. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Beth El Heritage Hall. The Roundtable meets the second Thursday of each month and features a program about the Civil War in the Delta.
The story of the Hoxie School desegregation will be presented on Feb. 21 at the DCC Visitors Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. The presenter will be Fayth Hill Washington, who was one of the African Americans students, known as the Hoxie 21, who integrated with the previously all-white Hoxie School. The Hoxie School desegregation is significant because it was the first integration of grades K-12 in the Delta, taking place two years before the more well-known desegregation of Little Rock’s Central High School.
The dedication of Freedom Park, Helena’s newest site in the Civil War Helena project, will take place at noon Feb. 23. Freedom Park is the first site in Arkansas to be designated a Network to Freedom site by the National Park Service. A Contraband camp, it was one of several places in Helena where tents and makeshift shelters served as temporary homes for the refugee slaves—freedom seekers—who came to Helena. They came because Union-controlled Helena was the only place in Confederate Arkansas where freedom was possible.
Continuing the observance of Black History Month will be Rhonda Stewart, genealogist with the Butler Center. She will present a program entitled, “The Legacy of Richard Toombs,” at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the DCC Visitors Center. Toombs was Stewart’s ancestor who was with the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War.
All events are free and open to the public.
Delta Cultural Center shares the vision of all seven agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage – to preserve and promote Arkansas heritage as a source of pride and satisfaction. Other agencies within the department are the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Old State House Museum, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the Arkansas Arts Council, and the Natural Heritage Commission.